Love is a complex and powerful force, one that plays out in a number of emotional, cognitive and social ways. According to the late psychologist John Alan Lee, there are six broad styles of love: Agape, Ludus, Storge, Eros, Mania and Pragma. We look at each in turn to help you determine the type of lover you are and the type of lover you need.
When we love a person, we feel emotional arousal in their presence. We will also have a set of thoughts (or cognitions) about that person, and our previous experiences can shape our ideas about what we expect in our relationships. For example, if you believe in love at first sight, then you are more likely to experience it.
But we use love in many different contexts. You might say that you love your partner, or your family, or your best friend, your job or even your car. Clearly, you’re using the term in different ways that highlight the various dimensions of love.
The ancient Greeks described several different types of love. Following the Greeks, the sociologist and activist John Alan Lee suggested that there are six broad styles of love.
It is good to keep in mind that although these love styles can be thought of as “types”, we are not necessarily locked into only one. We might have a predominant love style, but we will also have some elements of the other styles.
Similarly, our love style might change over time based on our experiences and interactions with our partners.
This style is typically experienced as a romantic, fairytale-type love. Physical beauty is important to this love style. Attraction is intense and immediate (“head over heels”), and the Eros lover feels an urgent drive to deepen the relationship emotionally and physically.
Because these individuals love the feeling of being in love, they tend to be serial monogamists, staying in a relationship as long as it feels fresh and compelling, then moving on so they can experience those same feelings again with someone new.
Storgic types tend to be stable and committed in their relationships. They value companionship, psychological closeness and trust. For these individuals, love relationships can sometimes grow out of friendships, so that love sneaks up on the pair. This love style is enduring, and these individuals are in it for the long haul.
People with a ludic style view love as a game that they are playing to win. Often this can be a multiplayer game! Ludic individuals are comfortable with deception and manipulation in their relationships. They tend to be low on commitment and are often emotionally distant.
Because ludic individuals are more focused on the short term, they tend to place greater importance on the physical characteristics of their mate than do the other love styles. They are also more likely to engage in sexual hookups.